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The Delight of Dance...

Excerpts from the teachings of Hazrat Inayat Khan


Flowers are the footprints of Thy dancing steps.

                Hazrat Inayat Khan,  Sayings: Gayan, Vadan, Nirtan 

A dancing soul shows its graceful movements in all its activities.

           Hazrat Inayat Khan,  Sayings: Gayan, Vadan, Nirtan

Every movement has a greater significance than one can imagine. The ancient people, recognizing this fact, knew the psychology of movement, and it is a great pity that the science of movement and of its psychological effect seems to be so little known today. Movement is life. ... The blessings given by the sages, the good wishes and prayers of the masters, were always connected with movement. The movements made the prayer alive; they insured that the blessings were granted. No doubt if movement is without silent thought and deep feeling it is less than thought and feeling, it is almost nothing; but when a movement is made with a living and sincere thought, and with deep feeling, it will make the thought and feeling a thousand times more effective.

        Hazrat Inayat Khan, Volume XI, Psychology

There are many delightful experiences in life, but joy is something greater and deeper than delight; it springs from the innermost being, and there can be no better description of the spring of joy than the dance of the soul. One finds in the life of every person, sorrowful or happy, wise or foolish, moments when he begins to sing or move. Joy may be expressed by a smile, it may even be expressed in tears, but in all it is the dance of the soul. ... Man can never make the soul dance, but he can make himself a fit instrument for the expression of his soul.

                            Hazrat Inayat Khan, Volume VIII


One should not forget that rhythm comes from the dancing of the soul. When the soul begins to dance, every word, every expression of a person becomes rhythmic. Rhythm, therefore, must not be forgotten, for rhythm inspires other souls to dance.

                        Hazrat Inayat Khan, Volume X, Sufi Mysticism

In a musician the soul dances in the realm of music, in a painter the soul dances in the realm of colors, in the poet it dances in the realm of poetry. In sculpture and architecture we also find that it was the dance of the soul which produced it; the Taj Mahal in India for instance was a product of the dance of the soul. In all these aspects the soul shows its beauty, and in all these different realms the dance of the soul is one and the same. When one bell is rung, by the sound of that one bell other bells will also vibrate. So it is with the dancing of the soul; it produces its reaction and that again will make other souls dance.

                        Hazrat Inayat Khan, Volume XIV, The Smiling Forehead


Once the soul has awakened, called by beauty, it leaps up dancing. Then its every movement makes a picture, whether in writing, poetry, music or whatever it may be. A dancing soul will always express the most subtle and intricate harmonies in the realm of music or poetry.

                        Hazrat Inayat Khan, Volume X, Sufi Mysticism


Tune and rhythm tend to produce an inclination for dance. To sum up, dancing may be said to be a graceful expression of thought and feeling without uttering a word. It may be used also to impress the Soul by movement, by producing an ideal picture before it. When beauty of movement is taken as the presentment of the divine ideal, then the dance becomes sacred. The music of life shows its melody and harmony in our daily experiences. Every spoken word is either a true or a false note, according to the scale of our ideal.

                       Hazrat Inayat Khan, Volume II, The Mysticism of Sound


Poetry is an art, a music expressed in the beauty and harmony of words. No doubt much of the poetry one reads is meant either as a pastime or for amusement; but real poetry comes from the dancing of the soul. No one can make the soul dance unless the soul itself is inclined to dance. Also, no soul can dance which is not alive.

In the Bible it is said that no one will enter the kingdom of God whose soul is not born again. Being born means being alive. It is not only a gay disposition or an external inclination to merriment and pleasure that is the sign of a living soul. External joy and amusement may come simply through the external being of man. However, even in this outer joy and happiness, there is a glimpse of the inner joy and happiness, and that is a sign of the soul having been born again.

What makes the soul alive? It makes itself alive when it strikes its depths instead of reaching outward. The soul, after coming up against the iron wall of this life of falsehood, turns back within itself; it encounters itself, and this is how it becomes living.

                       Hazrat Inayat Khan, Volume X, Sufi Mysticism


The purpose of life is to become more living, to allow the soul to live more, and that is the limit given by Christ when he says, 'Raise your light high'. This means allowing the soul to express itself. It does not matter what your life is, what your pursuit is; in order to fulfill the purpose of life you need not be in a temple or a church. Whatever your life's pursuit - art, poetry, sculpture, music, whatever your occupation may be - you can be as spiritual as a priest or clergyman, always living a life of praise. Your work in life must be your religion; let the soul express itself in every aspect and it will surely fulfill the purpose of life. The soul's life comes naturally if we open ourselves for the spirit to rise. .... Life and love come from God and raise every soul till it dances.

                        Hazrat Inayat Khan, Volume XIV, The Smiling Forehead


Thy music causeth my soul to dance;
in the murmur of the wind I hear Thy flute;
the waves of the sea keep the rhythm of my dancing steps.
Through the whole of nature I hear Thy music played, my Beloved;
my soul while dancing speaketh of its joy in song.

Hazrat Inayat Khan, Sayings: Gayan, Vadan, Nirtan